Story last updated at 1/30/2013 - 2:12 pm
Ever wondered about someone you pass on the sidewalk, see in the grocery store, or heard mentioned in stories? This is our attempt to track those people down, and grill them, lightly.
There is something intriguing about Beau Schooler. He seems tough but mild, and he has a strong epidermal dichotomy: his arms, chest and legs are covered in tattoos yet he has a face of a child that wants to play.
Most of his tattoos are food-related, but he said they are "all over the board." Besides his daughter's name, Nixie, tattooed on his right hand, he has one of an outline of a pig, sectioned with dotted lines depicting the various cuts of meat the animal offers. The sections are labeled, ""Good,' 'Good,' and "Real good,'" that later tag on the pork belly.
Clearly, Schooler is into the production of food. He grew up in south Anchorage, and his parents worked a lot. On one occasion, he recalled, his dad had three jobs.
"I remember at one point he was delivering pizzas and doughnuts," he said. "I remember thinking it was really cool when he would (return home) with them."
After a year and one quarter of high school, Schooler was expelled for drugs and alcohol. He said his parents had a running joke: his siblings' Permanent Fund Dividends (he has two brothers and one sister, all younger,) were going to their college savings account; his was reserved for potential future attorney fees.
"It wasn't great at the time, but if that hadn't have happened I wouldn't have ended up where I am," he said, referring to his position at The Rookery Café, where Schooler works preparing food.
He's been working on the restaurant's breakfast and lunch menu, and his hands are wet in developing the recent dinner service the establishment began a couple of weeks ago.
"It's fun, starting some things up from scratch," he said. "We're doing a lot of creative food that Juneau isn't used to, and providing it at an affordable price. People can experiment and find out if it's something they like and not have to lay down too much money."
When he was 14, his dad required he get a job. He told his dad he liked cooking. His dad responded, "Everyone's gotta eat."
"Restaurants appealed to me," he said. "I liked the environment, the late hours."
He was partying a fair amount, and he didn't have to be "PC" behind the burners.
He worked at Wee Bees, a popular burger joint in south Anchorage, then when he was 17, at the more upscale Glacier BrewHouse in downtown Anchorage. He liked his job, and said it helped him figure out the style of atmosphere in which he'd like to work, but said he was getting into too much trouble, so his parents sent him to live with an aunt and uncle down in Homer.
Schooler didn't love Homer at first, but after getting a job at the restaurant Fat Olives, his opinion changed a bit.
"They had this really crazy chef there that demanded that everything be great," he said. "He taught me a lot. I respected him."
Fat Olive's is known throughout the state and beyond for their pizza. The restaurant makes huge pies, as big as a round breakfast table, and serves them by the slice for those not dining in. There's usually one vegetarian option and one with meat. Schooler's claim to fame is the creation of the lasagna pizza. It's hefty, stacked with marinara, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, meatballs, Italian sausage, and noodles -the hollow ribbed style that are used in children's art projects. It's a feat to consume a slice. He worked at a couple other venues, and saved up enough money to attend a culinary program in southern Italy.
"It really opened my eyes to how little I actually knew about food," Schooler said. "It changed my perception and attitude about food. Before that I thought I was pretty talented. I was working there with guys who had worked in Michelin-rated restaurants. I was humbled."
He was 20 years old at the time, and after the three-month program ended, he traveled to Switzerland and Paris and then returned to Homer and Fat Olive's. After about six or seven months following his return, Schooler said he again started getting into trouble, though he's rather elusive regarding the details. His family had moved to Juneau, and Schooler joined them, around Thanksgiving of 2007.
After a year in Juneau, trying to figure things out, he spent around six months working in a restaurant down in Portland. He returned to Juneau and started working at the downtown restaurant Zephyr. While working there he met a woman and Nixie was born in August of 2010.
Though he is no longer with Nixie's mother, his daughter spends half the week with him.
"I like watching her figure out new things and developing a personality," Schooler said. "When she comes up with her own ideas about things, they might be so weird and out there, it's really funny."
He assisted in the reopening of the Raven's Café inside the Imperial Billiard and Bar, and is responsible for the French-inspired Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Then he helped out with the opening of Sprazzo, a pizza joint that expanded the restaurant empire of his former employer, who also owns Zephyr and the Raven Café.
He moved to The Rookery around the beginning of the New Year. He said he gravitates toward kitchens, as he's not that comfortable around people. However, I got the sense that if he wanted to, he could charm the most timid diner into trying pork belly, he just doesn't really want to. His charm lies in his disinterest in being charming.
His parents moved to Hawaii, where they have a family coffee farm, though Schooler isn't tempted to take advantage of their new location.
"It's all lava rock," Schooler said, describing the geography around the farm. "I don't like being hot."
He said he plans to stick around Juneau, helping expand The Rookery's menu.
"The one thing that's nice about a small town like Juneau is that there are lots of people willing to help out each other, above and beyond," he said. "There's always a constant outpour of support."
Amanda Compton is the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.